Riding an Icelandic horse, also known as an Icelandic Viking Horse was something I was looking forward to the most for our Iceland trip.
The last time I sat on a horse, I was 5 I think. From what I was told, I didn’t like it one bit. But I was sure this time around it would be a much better experience 😉
Horse riding in Iceland is one of the things that comes up in every “top things to do in Iceland“- list. It really is a lot of fun and a bit of an adventure if you never sat on a horse before.
It can be hard to choose what horseback riding tour to go for though. Especially since a lot of companies put their prices in Icelandic currency (ISK- Icelandic Krona) and it can be tough to find out which ones offer the best value. Before we went to Iceland, I did a bit of research. So I wanna share my Icelandic viking-horse-riding-experience with you.
What horseback riding tour to choose?
Are you an experienced horse rider? Are you a beginner, will you bring kids? There are literally tours for all kinds of demands. Of course they vary in prices. I found the more experienced tours are usually a bit more expensive. Tours that include a picnic or another perk (such as whale watching after the horse riding trip) tend to be up three times as expensive as a normal lava landscape tour. Personally I found booking trips separately can be much cheaper.
Apart from these daily tours there are also multi day tours or even whole horse riding holidays that you can book in Iceland.
I chose Ishestar, Horseback riding tours. Although their prices are similar to most other Icelandic riding tour providers, they did offer a special discount at the time of my booking. They also have great reviews and daily online support on their website in case you have any questions that aren’t listed on their website.
They turned out to be a good choice.
What’s it like to ride an Icelandic Viking horse?
I chose the standard Lava Tour because it said it was a good choice for beginners.
We were really unlucky with the weather throughout our whole Iceland trip. But at least on the day of the horse riding the temperature was alright with no rain or snow.
Ishestar tours picked us up from our hotel and drove us to their stables. They have huge stables outside of Hafnafjörðurand and we were allowed to walk around and watch and pet the horses. Also did they have a nice little seating/eating area in the main building where we got free water and teas of our choice which I thought was great.
After everyone arrived at the stables (we were a group of around 20 that later got split in half) we got to watch a basic instruction video on “how to ride a horse“. It was quite funny as most of the people who were there were already experienced riders.
We could choose to wear riding boots and rain-wear that they provided but wearing a helmet was mandatory.
I was a bit nervous when they assigned our horses. The horse I got paired with was Regina, who was a bit temperamental and didn’t listen to me one bit (which I am not surprised about). Still, it was a lot of fun.
We started the tour with a slow walk while one of the tour guides stayed at the back and one at the front.
Both tour-guides were extremely nice and helpful. They taught us a lot about the backstory of the Icelandic horses, which I thought was really interesting.
We were 20 minutes into our tour when we reached a crossing. Everyone had a chance to choose if they wanted to stay in the “slow” group or try their luck at going a bit faster on a more advanced path. I chose to stay in the slow group and my boyfriend rode off to join the other group… while he had my camera with him…
Interesting Icelandic horse facts:
The Icelandic horse is the only horse breed with 5 gaits; The walk, the trot, the canter, the tölt, and the flying pace. They were bred for the most comfort as the Vikings had to endure long distances by horse through rocky terrains. Compared to other horse breeds they don’t bounce up and down as much.
The are also the only breed of horses in Iceland. Icelandic law prevents any horses from being imported into the country. And once a horse leaves the country (for a competition for example) it is not allowed to ever return.
The whole tour was informative and fun. I do recommend to wear really warm clothes. I am not sure if it’s because I was too stiff on the horse but my legs and feet were absolutely frozen from the lack of movement- and I had two pair of socks plus tights underneath my trousers.
Where? Ishestar Riding Tours. They are located on the outskirts of Hafnafjordurand. They provide hotel pick-up for all their tours.
bHow much? 11.400 ISK/ 85 pounds/ 111 Dollar (they do offer discounts occasionally so look out for that)
Other good Icelandic horseback tour providers
ÍSLENSKI HESTURINN has a nice website and offers great combined quality trips. They don’t just do the the normal volcanic landscape tour which is a 1.30-2h ride through the Icelandic landscapes. Also do they offer tours that include picnics and whale watching. Iselnski Hesturinn got English speaking, licensed tour guides, but other languages might be available upon request. They got daily tours and offer hotel pick ups twice a day (morning at 8.45 and afternoon at 13.15).
ÍSLENSKI HESTURINN was my first choice.but it’s a bit more expensive compared to other tours. They do have great reviews on trip advisor though and are on Instagram and have a Blog where you can convince yourself about their tours.
Where? ÍSLENSKI HESTURINN, Skriðustekk, 109 Reykjavik, Iceland. Hotel pick ups available.
How much? A normal volcanic landscape ride starts from 14.500 ISK which is around 105.- pounds